A quantitative analysis of the causes of the global climate change research distribution.

During the last decades of growing scientific, political and public attention to global climate change, it has become increasingly clear that the present and projected impacts from climate change, and the ability adapt to the these changes, are not evenly distributed across the globe. This paper investigates whether the need for knowledge on climate changes in the most vulnerable regions of the world is met by the supply of knowledge measured by scientific research publications from the last decade. A quantitative analysis of more than 15,000 scientific publications from 197 countries investigates the distribution of climate change research and the potential causes of this distribution. More than 13 explanatory variables representing vulnerability, geographical, demographical, economical and institutional indicators are included in the analysis. The results show that the supply of climate change knowledge is biased toward richer countries, which are more stable and less corrupt, have higher school enrolment and expenditures on research and development, emit more carbon and are less vulnerable to climate change. Similarly, the production of knowledge, analyzed by author affiliations, is skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world. A quantitative keywords analysis of all publications shows that different knowledge domains and research themes dominate across regions, reflecting the divergent global concerns in relation to climate change. In general, research on climate change in more developed countries tend to focus on mitigation aspects, while in developing countries issues of adaptation and human or social impacts (droughts and diseases) dominate. Based on these findings, this paper discusses the gap between the supply of and need for climate change knowledge, the potential causes and constraints behind the imbalanced distribution of knowledge, and its implications for adaptation and policymaking.